Anthony Yarde put in what was surely the best performance of his pro career, knocking out Lyndon Arthur in the fourth round to get some revenge from last year’s first fight between the two, win the Commonwealth light heavyweight title, and likely set himself up for another world title shot.
Yarde (22-2, 21 KO) started aggressively from the opening bell, but wasn’t reckless about it. Arthur (19-1, 13 KO) did his best to tie Yarde up, slow him down, grapple with him, anything that might sap some energy and some of the pep in Yarde’s step, and had a solid second round himself.
But Yarde made his own early adjustment, not letting Arthur do so much of that smothering, tempo-changing work in the third round, landing some good shots early and late in the frame, and after Arthur connected on a good shot in the fourth, Yarde truly came alive, putting together a combination of shots, hurting Arthur to the body, and then dropping him on a final right hand to the head.
The official ruling was KO at 1:27 of round four. It did appear Arthur may have slightly beaten the count, but he was also not in any condition to continue according to referee Bob Williams, and in the ring when the call was made, Arthur offered no argument.
Yarde, 30, may now be set up to face the winner of the Jan. 15 WBO title fight between Joe Smith Jr and Callum Johnson, and the Yarde we saw tonight is a major threat to either of those men, and also it would be a potentially great action fight. He looks a lot more ready for that sort of step now than he did in 2019, when he got a shot at Sergey Kovalev and was stopped in the 11th round in Russia.
- Hamzah Sheeraz TKO-9 Bradley Skeete: Skeete was doing pretty well for seven rounds here — I had him up 68-65, though it could have been a round closer, I think — but Sheeraz, who had been doing nothing but aimlessly following Skeete around, started pressing and scored a legit knockdown in the eighth. Sheeraz then landed two (2) late punches on Skeete, and Skeete just never recovered. The punches were pretty blatant and could have been a DQ in a different setting or with different A- and B-side dynamics, but Sheeraz was only docked a point by referee Steve Gray. Skeete was dropped again in the eighth and then stopped early in the ninth on a third knockdown. Without the two late shots, Sheeraz still could have done what he did in the end, I think, just by pressing the way he started to finally. He was legitimately getting to Skeete and is a bigger, younger, stronger man. But I hate how this went down. Hard not to feel Skeete got the short end of the stick a bit in this one, he hadn’t had a serious fight in a few years and showed real motivation for this one.
- Sam Noakes TKO-9 Shaun Cooper: Noakes goes to 8-0 (8 KO) with the ninth round stoppage, a call from referee Ian John-Lewis that annoyed Cooper (11-3, 0 KO), and I think he was right to be. Being honest, Cooper didn’t seem to have any chance to win, but he wasn’t exactly in dire straits and making a questionable call in this situation leaves the inevitability that even worse decisions will be made some other time. Noakes, a 24-year-old lightweight prospect, has power and upside for sure, but still makes mistakes that might be a problem against fighters who punch better than Cooper, or who are just a bit more technically skilled, even. A potential matchup with fellow prospect Mark Chamberlain — who beat Cooper by eight-round shutout in Oct. 2020 — has been teased and would be a nice fight for Noakes, something interesting for two unbeaten fighters who want to get somewhere.
- Dennis McCann PTS-8 Juan Jurado: McCann, a Frank Warren favorite, started his career at 118 but is looking to settle in at 122, which makes enough sense, he’s 20 years old and making 118 for much longer was going to get tough, no reason to keep doing it to fight at this level for the time being. He’s now 11-0 (6 KO), and he certainly tried to get the stoppage in this fight, but Argentina’s Jurado (15-5-3, 1 KO) was a tough cookie, hung in there, survived, didn’t get himself in too much trouble, and was game trying to score with his own offense. McCann got the referee’s card 80-72, which was fully deserved, he won every round.
- Karol Itauma TKO-1 Tamas Laska: Stoppage came when Laska (19-29-1, 10 KO) took a knee after a body shot and referee Steve Gray waved it off immediately. A quick hook but the fight wasn’t likely to get any more competitive, either, and Itauma (5-0, 3 KO) is a good-looking light heavyweight prospect. He says his plans are to win a British title by 2023 and a world title by 2026. He’s 21 right now so he clearly isn’t trying to rush stuff, he wants to take his time and make sure he’s a polished fighter when he starts getting serious.
- Kamil Sokolowski PTS-8 George Fox: Sokolowski, a Polish journeyman who lives in the United Kingdom and is well-known for fighting heavyweight prospects and quite often taking dubious decision losses, gets one in his favor, as referee Lee Every scored this 79-75 for the veteran. Bad Left Hook had it 77-75 for Sokolowski; I thought Fox (4-1, 0 KO) was actually pretty decent in the first four rounds, had him up 3-1, and then Sokolowski (11-23-2, 4 KO) took over clearly in the second half. I still expected Fox to get the decision because I’ve seen Sokolowski “lose” this sort of fight repeatedly, but Every had the winner right here. You have to be happy for Sokolowski, who always works hard and breaks a four-fight losing streak with this win. Fox is 29 and, being honest, doesn’t seem to have a big future despite his nickname, but he could be a decent domestic heavyweight if he can tighten his game up some from here. This can certainly be a learning defeat for him, and if he can get better and win a couple, maybe even run it back with Sokolowski in a year or so. Kamil will still be there.